Students participate in nationwide walkout to protest gun violence

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A Columbine High School student holds a sign outside the school during a National School Walkout to honor the 17 students and staff members killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, in Littleton, Colorado, U.S. March 14, 2018. REUTERS/Rick Wilking

Tens of thousands of students across the country participated in a mass walkout to protest gun violence Wednesday, exactly one month after the massacre at a high school in Parkland, Florida.

Students marched out of their classrooms chanting slogans like “We want change” and “No more silence” in an attempt to pressure authorities to implement tighter gun control policies.

Leading the nationwide protest are students of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, where a gunman opened fire with an AR-15 assault rifle last month, killing 17 people.

“The mood, much like the weather this morning, is cold but it’s hard and to the point,” said David Hogg, survivor of the shooting and one of the leaders of the students’ advocacy against gun violence. “We know that we’ve had this change, we know that we’ve seen the suffering and loss but now, instead of closing up like many other communities before us, we must stand up, walk out and speak up against these acts of violence.”

At 10 a.m. local time, around 3,000 coordinated walkouts at various elementary schools, high schools, and universities began. The protest lasted 17 minutes in honor of the 17 people who died in the Parkland shooting.

Many of the schools supported the walkouts, but others gave warnings that students who participated in the protest would face disciplinary actions. Still, many students chose to defy the warnings, leave school, and join the protest.

Among the schools which participated in the walkout is Colorado’s Columbine High School, where 12 students and a teacher were killed in a shooting in 1999.

Though the current students of the school had not been born yet at the time of the massacre, they lent their voice to the cause, sharing how they grew up in fear for their safety and were forced to always be on high alert.

“We are a generation who has grown up with mass shootings and we are the ones who have to live through these tragedies,” said one student. “It is up to us to be the change we want to see.”